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Monday, July 6, 2009

Lob Shots For The 4th

The United States blast off fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July, in England they have Wimbledon. I'm American and do you know what I was capivated by?


I don't care what you think, but in the weekend where I'm usually a Morning Glory blazing Yankee Doodle Dandy, I was getting text updates on my phone telling me what was going on in the Gentlemen's Final. In the days leading up to the conclusion of the two and a half week championship, my friends and I were e-mailing about it and actually having arguments on Facebook posts regarding the tourament. I was upset that I was missing this match, in what seemed to be the day that Andy Roddick was about to leap up and slug the mighty Federer for the title. Whether he did it or not, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it, it was the fact that somebody was going for history (Roger Federer's 15th major, and the most all time) and someone was trying to reverse their own history, (Roddick) in the same day.

This all started last year. It started when the greatest rivalry in sports, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battled in the greatest tennis match I've ever seen. The list of tennis matches that I have seen is not very extensive, but even in my narrow view of what tennis is and who the great players are, I knew that what I was witnessing was something very special. The test of it was that my dad, who doesn't watch tennis and really doesn't care about tennis, was absolutely captivated by what these two guys were doing. The back and fourth of tennis was taken to another level, they were not only returning each shot, they were taking a great shot and improving it to the other. This match was so good, that Jon Wertheim wrote an entire book about it titled, Strokes of Genius. (I haven't read it yet, but it is definately in my Amazon shopping cart.)

This set us up for more this year. Nadal wasn't there because of an injury, but Andy Roddick stepped up and gave us an exceptional contest. Once again I was drawn into the match by it incredible lack of hype; it is hard to build hype when Sports Center only talks about it for 2 minutes per day and talks about Jeff Garcia decreeing himself the Raiders starting quarterback for a minute and a half. Something incredibly appealing to me about tennis is that it is understated in a sports world where everything is overstated and reiterated. I missed most of the final while at church, but was able to see the first two sets before I left and still get home during the 5th set. Fearing that I would miss the end of the match, I was happy to find out it was 6-6 in the 5th when I got home. What I was left with was 95 minutes of back and fourth, give and take, with the greatest of the generation (and maybe ever) trying for history, while his opponant was trying to hit the walk off home run and trying to avoid being Al Downing at the same time. Andy Roddick was in the final with an all of nothing feel. He was either going to be the hero, who hit the walk off home run to win the World Series or he was going to be the goat, who gave up a record breaking moment and always have his name attached to it for all the wrong reasons.

In the end, Federer won, Roddick lost and Tennis has jumped into my conciousness. Now in the midst of barbaquing, fireworks and being with people I like to be around, following the preceedings in Wimbledon, England is going to be added to my weekend. What Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate did last year at the U.S Open in Golf, Federer, Nadal and Roddick did in two years.

Well done and I'll see you next year.

Sterling Pingree

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